( Originally Published Late 1800's )
There was a time in the history of political organizations, when the current issues of politics were discussed by the people, and government was inaugurated and carried on for the good of the people. That day has practically passed by. Such has become the ambition and greed of political office-seekers that they no longer wait for the people to find out their fitness for office and place them in a high position on account of that fitness. But they must have recourse to trickery, bribery and chicanery as a means to exalt them to office. Such disreputable ambitions cannot be carried on, of course, in the open light of day. Hence the political club has become a part of the machinery of politics. Ambitious men, party leaders and their minions meet in the secrecy of the clubhouse, there to lay deep plottings and desperate schemes to steal the suffrages of the people in a pending election ; weeks and months before-hand, in the secrecy of a political club, men are chosen to high office. The town meeting, the county, state and national conventions, are captured by these party tricksters. When the nominations are once made, then the desperate and aggressive work begins. Whole-sale bribery, importunity, intimidation and all sorts of violence are used to induce voters to cast their ballots for the favorite candidates. The desperate game too often succeeds, and it is only in the rarest instances that the deliberate choice of the people is represented in those who obtain and hold office. The government of the country is now run by the political club, and the corruptions of our day almost rival those of the days of the Gracchi and the Triumvirate.
There is, indeed, a marked tendency not only in this country, but in Europe, to refer all questions, political, religious and social, to their respective clubs, and scheming politicians have eagerly seized upon this institution to further their ambitious aims. There is reasonable ground for doubt whether the political institutions of our country, with the boasted intelligence and integrity of the American people behind them, can long survive the machinations and corrupt influence of the political club. Even now, on rare occasions, it becomes necessary for the "sober second thought of the people to rebuke the aggressive ambition of political leaders. When thus rebuked, the politicians only retire to the secrecy of the clubroom to lay a deeper plot whereby they may attain the full realization of their hope and aim. We look upon the political club as a grave and threatening danger. Its members are actuated not by patriotism, but by political ambition. They are not inspired by the love of country, or respect for its institutions. They are, in a great many instances, only mongrel citizens from over the sea, who have the most extravagant notions of liberty, and the most corrupt ideas of political integrity. The political club must be put down, or statesmen must cease pleading for the purification of the caucus and the convention, and go one step farther to the purification of the political club. We do not need reform in civil service, or reform in municipal election, half so much as we need reform in actual patriotism and the abominations practiced by third-rate politicians. A reform that should sweep the social and communistic leaders out of the arena of politics ; a reform that should keep a citizen of a foreign country forever out of public office in this land. A reform that should cripple, if not destroy, the political club would have a most salutary effect upon the integrity of American institutions. A reform in political methods that should make the government literally a government of the American people for the American people, is the thing that is most sorely needed. A reform that should effectually place the arena of political life beyond the reach of foreign-born office-holders, would do more than all else for the purification of our national, state and municipal governments. The American people are slow to realize the urgency of this reform. We have allowed ourselves to be imposed upon by the ignorance and scheming ambition of foreigners. We have allowed them to come and take possession of our municipal governments without so much as uttering a protest. Now that they are grasping after the state and national government, it arouses our alarm. But we have not even yet reached the point of treating this question with all the sternness that it deserves. The time will surely come when the rule of America by Irish-Americans, or German-Americans, or European-Americans of any name, must be given over into the hands of our native born, or the integrity of American institutions will be undermined and destroyed. Superficial efforts to reform the federal offices of the national government will do little or no good; the danger needs radical and heroic treatment low down in the political clubs of our great cities. Until this incubus is destroyed, there is no hope for honest government in this land.